Marketing is no longer about simply bringing in new customers. Marketers are also responsible for managing customers to profitability. Our guest Steve Gershik explains why customer management is the new horizon, and how we all need to develop the tools and skills to understand our customers deeply. We must become digital anthropologists, examining customer behaviors and signals to infer the steps needed to serve customers and expand their value. Join us for a lively conversation, beginning with Steve’s notion of the “funnel beyond the funnel” and the surprising origins of the AIDA concept.
Cyndi Greenglass: What do you mean by “the funnel beyond the funnel,” and why should we care as marketers.
Steve Gershik: In my opinion, the funnel is the most effective advertising slogan ever for marketers. It was created 125 years ago by an advertiser named Elias St Elmo Lewis. He was a marketer who had founded an agency, and like any good guru, he didn't wait to develop his ideas—he just stuck it out there. He started out with this idea of defining the stages of marketing as to catch the eye of a reader, to inform him, to make a customer of him. It took him 10 years to develop that A-I-D-A slogan. He said the advertising is creating desire in the minds of careful folks and, and the salesforce is going to be organized and educated to cash in on that desire. Once you've put somebody through A-I-D-A –attention, interest, desire and action—it actually took them another 10 years to add the action part at the end. That idea held true for a long time—for as long as the salesforce had the power. They controlled information about the product. They controlled knowledge about pricing, and the customers had to go through a salesperson. They have a lot more control over what we all now call this customer journey. But a funny thing happened, and the commercial web came along, and then what was called web 2.0. It was not only about companies communicating out to customers anymore, the customers could talk to each other. People can exchange information about products and services without the need for a salesperson intermediary. That corresponded with this rise in this new business model in B2B were products that had been sold with a one-time charge and a small maintenance and support charge as an annuity. Now there was this recurring revenue model where we had to earn the right to continue to call the customer a customer. This recurring model now places a tremendous emphasis on customer happiness and customer satisfaction. That really gave birth to this idea of the funnel beyond the funnel. Companies are paying attention to post acquisition customer marketing, but still it's not being budgeted for strategically.
Cyndi Greenglass: Do you think some of this is behavioral? It’s much easier for attribution to take credit on new customer acquisition, so we tend to focus on that, where retention is harder to take credit for as marketers.
Steve Gershik: Attribution is getting harder and harder to do because customers are talking to each other, and they're not involved in companies as much. We can ask a customer once they come to us how they heard about us. We can interview them and find out the steps of their buying journey, but they might not remember all the people that they spoke to. I think attribution is a concept that was born and is slowly fading away. It's really about engendering customer conversations wherever they're having those conversations and supporting customers to be able to promote your brand.
Ruth Stevens: What is going to replace attribution in terms of demonstrating results and declaring success?
Steve Gershik: The future of attribution is getting closer to your customers. They are interacting with other people, and they're starting to determine brand preference and affinity without us. How do we go to the watering holes where they're gathering? We need to listen and lear and then we can jump in and participate with useful content that buyers might need.
Cyndi Greenglass: CDP are trying to allow us to capture all that intent data and all those conversations and then interpret them. Can they do all of this?
Steve Gershik: We really evangelize this idea of tracking every customer interaction—their digital footprints on your website and the indicators of interest based on their path through the website. But increasingly those interactions are taking places on websites that you cannot control. The hottest thing today is LinkedIn, especially in B2B. It's difficult to get metrics about specific customers. There are great customer data platforms, and the data accuracy is much more accurate than it was back in the day, but we have to deal with the opacity of the customer journey.
Cyndi Greenglass: If we looked to the future, what do you think B2B marketers should be considering?
Steve Gershik: For companies that are selling with a subscription model, a recurring revenue model, a SAS company, you have to think about post acquisition customer marketing strategically.
Key Takeaways/Three Little Piggies
- The attribution model of the past is fading away and we need to focus the future of attribution getting closer to the customer, using the metrics that we know measure retention, engagement and profitability in other ways.
- Investing in a customer management function is important and needs to be respected.
- We need to become digital anthropologists by listening to our customers, aggregating information and understanding it more.
Marketing Communications Today presents Horizons, it’s forward-thinking, looking ahead, through the front windshield and beyond, into the marketing future. Join Cyndi and Ruth bi-weekly for new ideas, technologies, tools and strategies that are emerging to help marketers navigate over the marketing horizon.
Meet our guest
Steve Gershik is a marketing executive and board advisor, based out of California. He was the first head of marketing for Sirius Decisions, a sales and marketing advisory firm now part of Forrester Research. Previously he has served as marketing executive at companies like Eloqua, inRiver, TOA Technologies and previously created the online marketing function for Nuance, now part of Microsoft. He co-founded DemandCon, the first demand generation conference after creating the Eloqua Experience and Markies awards program that Oracle has continued even after acquiring Eloqua. An in-demand speaker at events like Dreamforce, DMA, AMA and Campus Party, Steve stays active in the industry, serving as a marketing mentor to young professionals.
Meet the hosts
Cyndi W. Greenglass is a founding partner and president at Livingston Strategies, a data-informed, strategic consulting firm that helps clients develop, execute, and measure their customer communications with a close focus on results. Cyndi has razor-sharp strategic skills matched by impeccable on-the-ground savvy and tactical abilities. She is an Adjunct Instructor in the Data Marketing Communications online master's degree program from West Virginia University.
Greenglass has twice been named into the Top 100 Influential BTB Marketers by Crain’s BtoB Magazine and was the 2012 CADM Chicago Direct Marketer of the Year. She is a member of the Board of Advisors for BRAND United and has taught, trained and presented at over 50 conferences throughout the world.
Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for business-to-business clients. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York.
Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the ERA business accelerator in New York City.
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